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FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. P-06-2177. April 13, 2007.]


RE: REPORT ON THE FINANCIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED ON THE
BOOKS OF ACCOUNTS OF ATTY. RAQUEL G. KHO, CLERK OF
COURT IV, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, ORAS, EASTERN SAMAR
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J :
p

In our resolution dated June 27, 2006, we found Atty. Raquel G. Kho, former clerk of
court of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Oras, Eastern Samar, guilty of gross
misconduct for his failure to make a timely remittance of judiciary funds in his
custody as required by OCA Circular No. 8A-93. 1 We ordered him to pay a ne of
P10,000 for his transgression. The matter did not end there, however. Because his
malfeasance prima facie contravened Canon 1, Rule 1.01 2 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, we ordered him to show cause why he should not be
disciplined as a lawyer and as an ocer of the court. Atty. Kho submitted his
explanation in compliance with our directive. We shall now resolve this pending
matter and bring to a close this regrettable chapter in his career as a government
lawyer.
In his explanation, Atty. Kho admitted that his failure to make a timely remittance
of the cash deposited with him was inexcusable. He maintained, however, that he
kept the money in the court's safety vault and never once used it for his own
benefit.
Atty. Kho's apparent good faith and his ready admission of the infraction, although
certainly mitigating, cannot negate the fact that his failure to remit P65,000 in
judiciary funds for over a year was contrary to the mandatory provisions of OCA
Circular 8A-93. That omission was a breach of his oath to obey the laws as well as
the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities 3 and of his duties under Canon
1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
HcaDIA

CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE


LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL
PROCESSES.
RULE 1.01.
A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.

It is no accident that these are the rst edicts laid down in the Code of Professional
Responsibility for these are a lawyer's foremost duties. Lawyers should always keep
in mind that, although upholding the Constitution and obeying the law is an

obligation imposed on every citizen, a lawyer's responsibilities under Canon 1 mean


more than just staying out of trouble with the law. As servants of the law and
ocers of the court, lawyers are required to be at the forefront of observing and
maintaining the rule of law. They are expected to make themselves exemplars
worthy of emulation. 4 This, in fact, is what a lawyer's obligation to promote respect
for law and legal processes entails.
The least a lawyer can do in compliance with Canon 1 is to refrain from engaging in
unlawful conduct. 5 By denition, any act or omission contrary to law is unlawful. 6
It does not necessarily imply the element of criminality although it is broad enough
to include it. 7 Thus, the presence of evil intent on the part of the lawyer is not
essential in order to bring his act or omission within the terms of Rule 1.01 which
specifically prohibits lawyers from engaging in unlawful conduct.
Atty. Kho's conduct was not only far from exemplary, it was unlawful as well. For
this, he must be called to account. However, his candid and repentant admission of
his error, his lack of intent to gain and the fact that this is his rst oense should
temper his culpability considerably. Under the circumstances, a ne of P5,000
should suffice.
ICcaST

WHEREFORE, Atty. Raquel G. Kho is hereby found GUILTY of unlawful conduct in


violation of the Attorney's Oath, Section 20(a), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, and
Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is ordered to pay a
FINE of P5,000 within ten days from receipt of this resolution.
The Financial Management Oce, Oce of the Court Administrator, is hereby
DIRECTED to deduct from Atty. Kho's accrued leave credits as a former clerk of court
of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Oras, Eastern Samar the nes imposed in this
resolution and in the resolution dated June 27, 2006.
CcTIAH

SO ORDERED.

Puno, C.J., Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna and Garcia, JJ., concur.


Footnotes
1.

The pertinent portions of OCA Circular No. 8A-93 dated April 21, 1993 read:
Eective March 1, 1993, all Clerks of Courts of lower Courts are hereby DIRECTED
to deposit all collections from bailbonds, rental deposits and other duciary
collections, upon receipt thereof, following the same guidelines laid out in Circular
No. 13-92 of this Court dated March 1, 1992, with the LAND BANK OF THE
PHILIPPINES (LBP), the authorized government depository bank for the Judiciary.
In localities where the LBP has no branches, the Clerk of Court shall deposit all
collections with any Rural Bank in the area furnishing the ACCOUNTING DIVISION,
SUPREME COURT, the selected Rural Bank.
Where there is no LBP branch at the station of the judge concerned, the collections
shall be sent by postal money order payable to the Chief Accountant of the

Supreme Court, at the latest before 3:00 P.M. of that particular week.
xxx xxx xxx
Strict compliance is hereby enjoined.
2.

Infra.

3.

Attorney's Oath. This is substantially reiterated in Sec. 20 (a), Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court, which reads:
Sec. 20.

Duties of attorneys . It is the duty of an attorney:

(a)
To maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the
Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines.
4.

See AGPALO, COMMENTS ON THE CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY


AND THE CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT 18 (2001 ed.).

5.

CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, Rule 1.01, supra.

6.

BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1705 (4th ed.).

7.

Id.